Chicago mayor urges new police foot-chase policy after 13-year-old boy was fatally shot

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday called for the city to create a new foot-pursuit policy after a police officer shot and killed a 13-year-old boy during a foot chase in an alley a week ago.

Adam Toledo was shot in the chest by an unidentified police officer at about 2:30 a.m. CDT on March 29 in Little Village, a neighborhood in the city’s West Side, the Chicago Police Department said.

Police said Toledo was armed with a handgun. Officers were chasing him and another man after they received notification of shots fired in the area, the department said.

“Tragedies like these underscore the urgency of reforming CPD’s foot pursuit policy not tomorrow, but now,” Lightfoot said during a news conference on Monday.

His mother was not notified of his death until two days later and police did not announce Toledo was 13-years-old until three days after the shooting. Video of the incident has not been made public. The city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), which is investigating, said it is required to release police body camera video within 60 days of the incident. The agency described it as “troubling video footage” in a statement.

Lightfoot said she is waiting to watch the video until Toledo’s mother sees it.

“Let us not forget that a mother’s child is dead,” Mayor Lightfoot said.

For days, police could not identify Toledo. They said he did not have identification on him and that the 21-year-old man who was with him and was later arrested gave authorities a fake name, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department David Brown said.

“This is a tragedy, the most tragic of circumstances,” Brown said. “Let’s not make it worse by rushing to judgment.”

His mother identified him in the city’s morgue last Wednesday, Brown said. 

The mayor and Brown declined to answer when asked whether the boy fired at the officer before he was shot in the chest.

But the mayor strongly suggested that the teen may have been involved in gangs before that night and that a gang member gave him the gun.

“Gangs are preying on our most vulnerable, corrupting these young minds with promises of familia and lucre,” she said.

“None of us should accept that we have adults here and across Chicago preying upon vulnerable teenage boys,” saying that it is everyone’s duty to give these children the love and support they need.

“That’s how we lessen the allure of gang life,” she said.

The mayor and superintendent also addressed a recent “officer safety alert” within the department warning officers that factions of a street gang had instructed members to shoot at unmarked Chicago Police vehicles in retaliation for the teen’s death.

“The danger to officers every day is real,” Lightfoot said, mentioning statistics that show 79 officers in the city were fired upon last year compared to 22 the year before.

She said she hoped gang members would not “be foolish enough” to fire upon police. Brown also urged calm, pointing to a statement made by the boy’s mother, Elizabeth Toledo over the weekend.

“Adam was a sweet and loving boy,” she said. “He would not want anyone else to be injured or die in his name.”

Lightfoot vowed to determine how the teenager had a gun, saying she has directed police officials to use DNA, fingerprint and tracing technology to find the person who gave him the gun.

“We will find the person who put the gun in Adam’s hand,” Lightfoot said during a news conference in the neighborhood on the West Side. “An adult put a gun in a child’s hand, a young impressionable child who should not be provided with lethal force.”

As communities nationwide face a reckoning over police violence, the incident has renewed calls for police reforms in the third largest U.S. city. Chicago police have been under intense scrutiny since 2014 when a white officer shot and killed a Black teenager. He was later convicted of second-degree murder.

A video of that incident led to a U.S. Justice Department investigation that found Chicago police routinely violated people’s civil rights, used excessive force and racially discriminated against people.

NewsNation affiliate WGN, the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Reporting by AP’s Don Babwin, Reuters’ Brendan O’Brien, and WGN’s Meghan Dwyer and Dana Rebik